What To Do After Losing A Loved One

When someone you care about passes away, the entire world feels like it’s caving in on you.  Ever family has that one person that has to be “the responsible one.”  Well,  we can lessen that burden for him or her.  We can handle the nitty gritty legal stuff, so that your family can heal and grieve its loss.

Collect The Mail

When someone passes away, it can be difficult to know what bills are coming due, what memberships need to be cancelled, and where any assets may be held.  Collecting the mail and creating an inventory is one useful way to begin this process.  As bills come in, you can keep track of what credit cards need to be cancelled, and what recurring purchases appear on those statements.  Similarly, the mail can tell you what institutions are holding your loved one’s bank, retirement, and investment accounts.  If the home is going to be unoccupied for a bit, the mail can keep you up to date with utility bills.

Create A Folder

Keeping a record of bills, statements, bank accounts, memberships, taxes, mortgages, etc. can be vital.  Organize this file so that you have a clear handle on what there is to be dealt with.  This will also give you a clear indication of the history of what’s been done over time.  Whomever becomes legally responsible for handling the estate could need to provide an accounting of his or her actions.  Thus, this file could be very useful later on.

In the same folder or a separate one,  keep a copy of any (i) death certificates, (ii) funeral bills, and (iii) paid receipts.

Make A List 

Type up a list of each institution that sends bills (such as National Grid, PSEG, Sewer Bill).  Leave a column for the amount due, and corresponding due date.  Print this list out in multiples.  Every time a bill is received in the mail, write down the amount due and when it is due to help keep track. Mark off when each bill is paid. It is also helpful to write on the list or the face of each bill the date it was paid, the method of payment, and any reference number corresponding to the payment.  Need help? Check out our BILL INVENTORY

Look For Any Estate Documents 

If your loved one had a Last Will & Testament, then the original will need to be presented to the Court to probate the estate.  If found, do not remove any staple or make any marks!  This document needs to be unaltered or it will not be valid.  There may be other estate documents, such as life insurance plans, inventories, or instructions.  Keeping a record of any of these documents could also help.

Create A Tax Identification Number

The Estate will eventually need a Tax ID number from the IRS.  We can handle this for you.  The application can be found on the IRS website (you will need your loved one’s social security number).

Contact Us

This is the simplest step of all!  Someone will need to be issued authority from the Court to close out bank accounts, open up an estate bank account, cash in any investments, sell any homes, and sell any vehicles.  Whether your loved one has a Last Will & Testament or not; we can get this authority for you!  There are different legal forms and proceedings that need to be filed depending on your circumstances, but we can handle this for you.

We can also help you when selling any homes owned by your loved one.  We have an arsenal of professionals from realtors, title companies, attorneys and more ready, willing, and able to handle all of the nitty gritty for you.

To ensure you or your loved ones are prepared, see our easy to use ESTATE PLANNING QUESTIONNAIRE.

Attorney Advertising. This page is designed to provide general information. It is not intended to be legal advice. It can not and should not be substituted for proper legal representation. You should consult an attorney for legal advice regarding your rights as every case is unique and requires in depth analysis and preparation. Do not submit confidential information through this website. Contact initiated through this website does not create an attorney-client relationship. We make no warranty or guarantee of the accuracy or reliability of information contained herein.

Gulotta & Gulotta Law Firm